Drass: Raised by their mothers on the stories of their braveheart fathers who sacrificed their lives in the 1999 Kargil war, sons of three war heroes have joined their regiments in the Army.
Sepoy Amarpreet Singh, Sepoy Bakhtwar Singh and Lieutenant Hitesh Kumar, sons of Naik Subedar Surjeet Singh, Naik Subedar Ravail Singh and Naik Bachan Kumar, respectively, were supported by their mothers in the decision.
The Indian Army launched 'Operation Vijay' in May 1999 to recapture several mountain tops overlooking the strategic Srinagar-Leh highway from Pakistani intruders.
Fathers of Amarpreet, Bakhtawar and Hitesh were among the 527 soldiers who were killed in the over two-month-long war fought atop jagged peaks and amid freezing temperatures.
As many as 1,363 soldiers were wounded in different battles of the conflict.
Amarpreet, who hails from Punjab's Mawa village, was 10 years old when he lost his father in the war.
He had always wanted to join the Army, his mother, Amarjeet Kour, said.
"When his father lost his life fighting in Drass sector in the Medium Artillery regiment in 1999, my son was just 10 years old. From the beginning, he was interested in joining the Army. I supported him and I am proud of his decision," she said.
Amarpreet joined his father's regiment in May 2018 and is currently posted in Leh.
Mother of Sepoy Bakhtawar, Surinder Kour, is no different.
She said she always supported her son's decision to join the Army.
Bakhtawar, hailing from Jammu's Makhanpur village, was only nine years old when his father, Naik Subedar Ravail Singh, died fighting the enemy at Tiger Hill.
Bakhtawar, who has served in Kargil, was also encouraged by other family members to join the Army.
"My uncle, who also fought in the Kargil war, also encouraged me by sharing stories of his bravery," he recalled.
Lieutenant Hitesh Kumar's father, Lance Naik Bachan Singh of the 2nd Battallion of Rajputana Rifles, died fighting in Tololing on June 12, 1999.
Though Hitesh was only six years old then, he decided to join the Army after his father's death and he has done it, his mother, Kamlesh Bala, said.
A senior Army officer lauded the young soldiers for choosing to follow in their fathers' footsteps.
"Not many men can dare to dream of a life full of sacrifices knowing well enough the life-threatening dangers associated with the choice," he said.
"Not many women are brave enough to support their children to choose a career that took away their husbands from them," he added.
The Kargil war was declared over on July 26, 1999, after the Indian soldiers pushed back the Pakistani troops, a bulk of them drawn from the neighbouring country's Northern Light Infantry.
The day is observed as 'Kargil Vijay Diwas' to commemorate India's victory.
The Defence Ministry has said the 20th anniversary of the war will be commemorated in Delhi and Drass from July 25 to 27, with numerous activities planned all over the country from the first week of July.